There are several reports that the "eye" (c. 50 cm in length) from a statue of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BCE) will be returned to Egypt in the next four weeks ("Switzerland to return stolen Pharaoh's 'eye'", AFP, September 10, 2008; "Egitto recupera occhio Amenhotep da Svizzera", ANSA, September 10, 2008). According to ANSA, negotiations have been ongoing since 2006 (see "Egyptology News" from February 2006).
The statue was discovered at Amenhotep's mortuary temple near Luxor in 1970 (or 1969, according to ANSA); the eye was subsequently stolen in 1972. It then passed into the hands of "an American antiquities dealer" (who?) and then passed through Sotheby's (where? when?).
It then passed into the hands of a "German antiquities dealer" (who?) and was then, according to AFP, sold to a "museum in Basel, Switzerland" - identified as the Antikenmuseum by the ANSA report. A parallel report by ANSA suggests that a Swiss collector had donated the eye to the museum in 2002 ("un collezionista svizzero che l'aveva donato al museo") after acquiring it at Sotheby's.
The report, from two reputable news sources, seems to lack detail at critical points. Is the "Swiss collector" the same as the "German antiquities dealer"?
What is interesting is that stolen, but recorded, antiquities from Egypt are being returned on a regular basis.
The Antikenmuseum will, perhaps, need to look at its acquisition policy. Should it require documented histories of antiquities?